Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Blanket

I once went to a fancy dress party dressed in a patchwork knitted blanket with a hole in the middle for my head, and tied around my waist to keep it on. When asked what I was dressed as, I replied, 'A blanket'. What I was thinking I have no idea. My other fancy dress moments that I remember are a Pierrot clown, and a 1920s woman. The clown was the best one, and I still have a picture of that which I quite like. It was when I was about 16, and my Mum made the costume. Anyway, this blanket is not to wear. It has taken me about three years to complete. The lockdown has meant that I have finished it more quickly than I would have done. It is from an idea of the designers Arne and Carlos, which is to just knit two rows of a colour then change. I have enjoyed the process of choosing colours. Sometimes there has been a theme, (rainbow, daisies, ice-cream) and sometimes just what looks good to me. Occasionally randomness has been involved. It is very mindless knitting, and I can even do the stitches without looking, so without the need to wear my glasses. 
The blanket has 275 coloured rows, so 550 knitted rows. Each row has 254 stitches. That is 139,700 stitches altogether. Each row takes about 10 minutes to knit. 5500 minutes, or approximately 92 hours. Assuming an eight hour day that is 11.5 days. At £10 an hour that would be £920. Good job I am not charging myself for my time. And worryingly, I tend to knit in the evenings while watching TV, so that is a lot of TV!
 I decided to knot the ends of the yarn rather than sew in all the ends. I really don't like sewing in ends, and this many ends would be extremely tedious, and add another day's work to the blanket. Knotting them was quick and easy, and meant that all I had to do then was trim them. That was fun. (It really was!) Oliver came to observe what I was doing. He got on the new ironing board I am using the other day, and ruined its pristine surface with his long sharp claws. It made a good surface for trimming the ends anyway.




Monday, 6 April 2020

London Magic

On Saturday, we set off for our walk in beautiful weather. The route I had planned became a different walk altogether when we set off up this path instead of crossing the railway as we had intended.
At the top was a fence, but the fence had a hole in it, so we squeezed through. What we found on the other side was the most magical place I have been in this area, if I don't count the foreshore at certain times when nobody is there. There were trees, gorse bushes, and the most amazing views all around. 
There was a narrow dirt path which just had to be followed. 



It wound on, and in the hot sun that we were lucky enough to have that day, it was as if we were not in London anymore...
 ...but then the distant views would remind us we were.

There was one section of the path that was very narrow, but we carried on as far as we could go, until another fence stopped us. Far below we could hear people in the park on either side of us.
We probably won't go in there again, as, from signs we saw later, we discovered it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and I don't think we were meant to be there. I don't think we did any harm, and I am so glad we saw it because, as I said, it was magical, all the more so in these weird times.
 
Back down the steps, and, at the bottom, we turned left, to find what we had seen a sign for earlier, a place called Gilbert's Pit. I knew about it, from conversations I had at work with a colleague who lives next to it, and from visiting the Horniman Museum, and seeing fossils found there. I looked it up at the time, but never got around to visiting it. The pit is an old sand quarry, the sand being used to supply the glass making industry. It is part of a large park, called Maryon Wilson Park, after Sir Maryon Wilson, who donated 12 acres of land to the London County Council in 1889. The park opened in 1990. There is a very interesting history of the park here. It grew over the years, with the disused quarry being purchased in 1930.
Gilbert's Pit is named after Mr E. Gilbert, one of the quarry managers. There was a Romano British settlement on Cox's Mount, at the top of the pit, between the first and fifth centuries. The area was part of the ancient Hanging Wood, which lay between Woolwich Common and Charlton. This wood was a hiding place for highwaymen. Maybe all of this history explains the atmosphere of the place. 
While we were there, I noticed some very smooth black flint pebbles. On looking at information on the pit later, I found that these are characteristic of the Blackheath Beds. Having done a bit more reading of quite difficult to understand geological information, I can gather that these pebbles are about 55 million years old, and come from shallow coastal waters of the Eocene period. Mind blowing, when you are up a high hill like that to think of what it was.

Here is the cliff in the pit, showing the layers. 
Blue sky and blossom on our way out, and a quick hello to the colleague I mentioned earlier, who was sitting in her garden with her daughter when we left.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Mission

Who would have thought two weeks ago (here at least) that going shopping would be the most dangerous thing I will do all week? Last week my dangerous thing was going down to the foreshore, and I visited last Saturday for the last time for a while. The Port of London Authority has forbidden people from engaging in leisure activities on the Thames for the time being, so their resources will not be wasted in rescuing people having fun.There was also talk that Covid-19 may be transmittable in fecal matter, and we all know what ends up on the shore in quite a number of places!
Since crocheting and beading my massive coronavirus (comparatively) model a few weeks ago, there have been so many changes to our daily lives. I made this to partially make myself less anxious as the coverage of the progress of the virus around the world increased until there was nothing else on the news. Last Saturday, we went to the Marks and Spencer near where we live, and it was pretty busy, with no signs yet of the social distancing. (That came in on Monday, although the instruction to stay at home apart from essential outings came earlier.) We already had plenty of most things, as Andy consistently keeps a store of tins etc, with various outside causes, the last one being Brexit. The panic buying started at least two weeks ago, and I really noticed it for the first time when I popped into Tescos on Friday 13th March on the way to Rotherhithe. It was 9 in the morning and there were massive queues at every till. From then until last weekend it continued pretty much in all of the supermarkets. Yesterday I ventured to Sainsbury's as we had run out of fresh stuff. The queue was well organised and I only stood there for about ten minutes. Inside the shop was fairly quiet, but the people who were in there were not trying particularly hard to keep two metres apart. I spent quite a bit of time dodging up and down different aisles, and waiting for people lingering near fridges looking at their phones rather than getting out of the way! I think a lot of people were in a kind of happy daze at being back in a shop, and therefore not concentrating very well. We now have plenty of food etc for the next two weeks so don't need to go near other people for a while. My family and friends are all doing OK at the moment. I am trying not to watch the news too much, just a daily update, as otherwise the feeling of  fear becomes a bit overwhelming. I haven't been called into school on our rota system yet, so have been getting lots of jobs done around the house. Clearing the massive pile of stuff in the kitchen which resulted from an electrical problem last year was the first thing. We now have a table we can use and space for the cats to run around and chase each other. (Oliver and Cassie, not Lily, who doesn't do that kind of thing much now) Yesterday I cleaned the fridge, and today defrosted the freezer. Tomorrow I may tidy the pan cupboard, or start the garden.
Below a few signs of Spring from my walk today.



Take care x

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Finds

13 witchy fingers. This seems an appropriate number for something so creepy. 
Each time I go to the shore I look for one. They are only flints, in a pointy finger shape, but I like them.
I don't know who this lady is. She was in a box of glass negatives I found in a charity shop recently. I reversed them in photoshop, once I had remembered how to use it! They were from a bigger box that had been bought, but these had slipped through the net, and so I bought them for £3. I love this picture. Her wrinkly tights, the ribbon on her hat, her outfit and the car are all so great. Look at the horn on the car! You just needed to stick your hand out of the window-parp parp! I wonder if it was her car.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Busy Saturday

This morning I left home early to visit my Mum. She has decided, at 85, that she wants to move house. She was pretty excited about the whole idea when she first thought about it in the summer, but I thing that the reality of faffing around with estate agents and worrying that she has too much stuff (she doesn't-on a scale of her to me!) and trying to sort it out has left her a bit stressed. The cold wet winter is not her favourite time either, so she just wants it all to be over! Anyway, today was the third time a person was viewing her house, so she needed to be out for that. We went out for breakfast, then went shopping as she hadn't been able to go the other day as her car didn't start. Then we went home and had more coffee and talked about all sorts of things like we always do. It is always fun seeing my Mum!

 Andy and I, (well I more than him) had planned to visit the Isle of Grain tomorrow, as I wanted to see the fort again and have a walk on the beach. We decided to go this afternoon instead. It didn't take that long to get there. These photos are from our walk. Andy is feeling a bit ropey, and is coming down with something, which we hope is not Corona virus, so we weren't too long. He said the fresh air made him feel better. Anyway, these are the things we saw.
Gorgeous shaggy mini horse and beautiful donkey. They were over a high and wide hedge so I couldn't reach the donkey to stroke his nose, even though I really wanted to!
Grain Fort-an artillery fort built in the 1860s to defend the confluence of the Thames and Medway from France. We are going to go back and walk out there at some point. We could have done today as it was low tide, but I would rather do it on a warmer day!
The beach was full of tiny pretty shells.
 A solid piece of the causeway to the fort. 

A lovely Oyster Catcher. 
 Cargo ship. 
 A Curlew enjoying something tasty.


 A couple of warning signs, which go with the general quite strange atmosphere of the place. Though I shouldn't say that, as, unusually, everyone we encountered smiled or said hello. I liked that. So much better than seeing someone in an isolated spot who just totally ignores you!




Thursday, 5 March 2020

Rainbow

I can't decide which photo I like best of the beautiful rainbow and sky over Blackheath, so have just included all of them! It was a couple of weeks ago when I was driving home from seeing a very sweet cat called Mr Spock. I had to stop the car as the rainbow was just too good to miss!









Sunday, 1 March 2020

Completed Projects!

I have been making this doll for ages, and finally completed her recently. She is called China Doll, for obvious reasons. She is made from Thames finds, a doll head that Linda Sue sent me, string, wax and clay. I have been thinking about how to use clay pipe pieces, and doll limbs seemed a good use. The body is air dry clay with tiny pieces of blue and white pottery pressed into it, then covered in wax. The hands are painted with red wax, like the ends of some of the pipes used to be, to stop them from sticking to the lips of the smoker. The hair is dipped in wax, and it was a happy accident that it turned out as if she is on a windswept beach, as the wax hardened almost immediately, producing hair that stands out from her head. I was going to use a copper light bulb base for a hat, but none of the ones I have found fitted, so a small oyster shell did the job instead. She is standing in an air brick, surrounded by a garden of rusty nails. As well as the fact that I like the brick and nails, I also like the fact that I didn't have to make her any feet!

The book houses are related to a project at school. I enjoyed making them. I especially enjoyed placing the tiny people!

They are spookily faceless, and remind me of The X-Files, 
or Men in Black or something of that sort. 
 


I used glaze acrylic glaze medium on the door, as I couldn't find anything else to make it shiny. It has dried clear and looks like glass in the panes, again a happy accident!
I used tracing paper in the windows, one of them coloured with yellow alcohol pen.
 The book they are standing on is an amazing find from Deptford market, It is a ledger, marked 'Bottling Inwards'. It is largely empty, sadly containing no records of use, apart from a child's use of it as either a stamp album, or football record. I just couldn't resist the way the pages are decorated. It was £5 which I thought was a bargain!
 Inside the houses, where a lot of cutting of paper, gluing and strengthening went on. 

 I found this little plastic Halloween cat buried in the mud at my favourite piece of shore the other day. It is the first animal I have found! At first I thought it was a flint, shaped like a cat, as flints seem to be able to look like anything. I was pleased to see it actually was a cat!
 I was also asked to make a treasure chest for the same project. I was not looking forward to making the box part and had been hoping to find the perfect box to convert. Again, Deptford market came good, providing both the box, and a massive tangle of costume jewellery to fill it with. I like untangling things, not sure why, as I am not that patient a person, but I spent about a week fiddling around until it was done.
 Not a very attractive box, but exactly the right shape.
 I covered it with linen fabric.
 I gessoed that.
 Then I painted it all with blackboard paint. No special reason, just that it is very matt black paint and I happen to have some!
I used gold polish on the straps, wood grained the black with a brown paint and my wood grain tool, and also used some shiny turquoise and green paints to make it look a bit sea worn and old.
The jewel hoard untangled! I kept some of the nicer things. The most useful bits were the incredibly cheap and nasty pearls. There were also some slightly better ones which I used too. I added some yellow and orange beads that I don't like, after adding shiny gold and green polish to them, to make them fit into the look.

 
I added a little china vase, and some gold enhanced plaster things I had lying around from previous experiments.
I lined the top of the box with some lovely satin quilted fabric I have had for years. I have a huge amount of it, bought at a jumble sale for about £1. A few pieces of river glass went in, and a tiny sword I made for something else but didn't use. I did the fun part of gluing it all in last night. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out!